The Expedite Expo is a great reason to visit downtown Lexington, Ky., this July, but there are plenty of other things to see and do in Lexington as well.

Mark your calendar for July 15 and 16, and plan to come early and stay late in Lexington.

Lexington has been called the “city in the park,” according to the website visitlex.com, because of its location at the center of hundreds of beautiful, parklike horse farms. But the website notes that “the nickname also seems an apt description of the cosmopolitan yet casual atmosphere of the downtown area.”

Indeed, Lexington combines all the amenities you would expect to find in a big city with the charm and hospitality of a small town. Whether you want to see the sights, check out some amazing architecture, get in some outdoor recreation, do some shopping or enjoy fine dining — all that and more is available in Lexington.

Of course, one of Lexington’s biggest attractions are the beautiful horse farms that have been part of Kentucky’s history since the first settlers arrived in the Bluegrass State. In fact, Daniel Boone himself introduced a bill at Kentucky’s first legislative assembly for “improving the breed of horses,” and the horse farms around Lexington are still doing that today.

There are about 150 horse farms in Lexington and Fayette County, and many allow visitors by appointment or through arrangements with tour companies.

For a complete list of companies that offer tours, or tips on how to make an appointment on your own, go to visitlex.com/idea-guide/horse-farm-tours.

Horse farms aren’t the only tradition that Kentucky is known for. There’s also Kentucky bourbon — the state produces 95 percent of America’s only native spirit, according to the Kentucky Distillers Association, and five historic distilleries in the Lexington area have regular tour programs. The Woodford Reserve, the Wild Turkey Distillery, the Buffalo Trace, Four Roses Distilling Company and the Town Branch Distillery all offer tours without appointment to groups of fewer than 10 people. Children are welcome. For more information, visit visitlex.com/idea-guide/bourbon-distilleries.

Of course, Lexington is filled with history and there are some wonderful sightseeing opportunities in the neighborhoods near Lexington Center, with architecture spanning 200 years. Among the Attractions Are:

  • The Mary Todd Lincoln House, adjacent to Lexington Center at 578 W. Main St. The house was a girlhood home of Abraham Lincoln’s First Lady, a member of a prominent early Lexington family. Guided tours are given Monday through Saturday.
  • The Hunt-Morgan House, northeast of the convention center complex at 201 North Mill St. The home was built in 1814 by Kentucky’s first millionaire, John Wesley Hunt. The house includes the Alexander T. Hunt Civil War Museum with items relating to Hunt’s grandson, Confederate Gen. John Morgan. Guided tours are available Wednesday through Sunday.
  • Transylvania University. Located in the historic Gratz Park neighborhood at Third and Broadway is the campus of the oldest college west of the Alleghenies.
  • The law office of Henry Clay. The famous 19th-century U.S. senator was one of early Lexington’s prominent citizens.
  • The Explorium of Lexington (Lexington Children’s Museum), located in The Square, a complex of 16 restored 19th-century commercial buildings at Main and Broadway. The 14,000-square foot museum features a variety of hands-on activities, from an “archaeological dig” to giant soap bubbles.
  • Lexington Financial Center (known to locals as “Big Blue.”) The 30-story glass office building towering over Main Street is Lexington’s tallest building.

Some of the attractions listed above charge for admission. You can visit them on your own or arrange for a guided walking tour through several tour services. Go to visitlex.com/idea-guide/downtown-lexington for more information.

If you’re looking for great shopping, Lexington has that covered, too. You’ll find a wide variety of stores in close proximity at The Square and The Shops at Lexington Center, which are connected by covered walkway.

The Shops at Lexington Center include Cat Couture, featuring fashion for University of Kentucky fans (or for those who just really like Kentucky blue). There are also Lexington-exclusive shops such as Old Kentucky Chocolates candy store; Artique, a gallery of quality handmade jewelry and gift items; and Kentucky Korner, with just about everything emblazoned with Kentucky symbols or the University of Kentucky logo.

The Square includes Sincerely Yours, a charming little boutique, as well Urban Outfitters and Alumni Hall, the newest stores to open in The Square. Artists Attic, on the fourth floor features the studios of more than 30 area artisans. Most shops are open Monday through Saturday. These are just a few of the shops within easy distance of downtown Lexington.

Of course, all of that sightseeing and shopping will leave you with an appetite, and downtown Lexington has that covered, too.

Downtown Lexington has more than 90 restaurants covering all sorts of cuisine with dining experiences ranging from casual to fancy and everywhere in between. The Shops at Lexington Center features a Food Court where you can grab a quick meal, or you can dine at some excellent hotel restaurants: Triangle Grille at the Hilton Lexington/Downtown, the Blue Fire Grille at the Hyatt Regency or Distilled’s at the Gratz Park Inn. Tony’s offers elegant fine dining, Pies and Pints offers tasty pizzas and lots of beer options, and the new lunch hot spot Vinaigrette is hugely popular for its salads. Saul Good occupies the corner space at Broadway and Short, making it the perfect place to grab a cocktail or a meal before a show at the Lexington Opera House. For hearty burgers and other “bar food,” try Sawyer’s Bar and Grill at the corner of Main and Broadway. For sophisticated Italian dining with a California attitude, try Portofino’s at 249 E. Main). Sublime traditional, Sicilian and specialty pizzas are found at Joe Bologna’s, 120 W. Maxwell St. This local favorite also serves pasta and breadsticks drenched in garlic butter.

Downtown Lexington is home to these and many, many more outstanding restaurants. For more information, go to visitlex.com/idea-guide/downtownlexington.

Entertainment is another great reason to enjoy downtown Lexington. The Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main Street, is a restored 1920s movie house that shows classics, foreign and some first-run films, with occasional concerts. The recently renovated Lyric Theatre, historically the entertainment centerpiece for Lexington’s African-American families, hosts a broad range of programming and is home to “WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour,” an internationally syndicated live radio show.

ArtsPlace, at 161 N. Mill St., is headquarters to several Lexington arts groups. A gallery features changing exhibits and Red Barn Radio tapes live bluegrass shows in the summer. There
are frequent musical and theatrical performances at the Downtown Arts Center on Main Street. Local and regional theatre groups often perform in the Black Box Theatre on the first floor.

Another outstanding entertainment option is Central Bank Thursday Night Live, which features family-friendly live music in downtown Lexington.

Obviously, downtown Lexington is a happening place. You can be a part of the fun by coming early and staying late at the 2016 Expedite Expo! Click Here to register – It’s Free!